Commentary

To Win Super Bowl 2012, Advertisers Have to Think Beyond The Game

It’s crunch time for Super Bowl 2012 advertisers. Over the next few weeks they’ll be meeting to tweak, massage, and optimize their non-trivial marketing investment coming up on Feb. 5. All of their months of planning, strategizing, and ideating, not to mention the millions of dollars spent on media and creative to capture the attention of 100+ million people, all come down to a very quick 30 to 60 seconds.

The sad truth is that advertisers who plan to battle only for those 30 to 60 seconds on Feb. 5 have already lost the war. Beyond the 100+ million people who watch the big game and the ads that Sunday night, there are around half a billion user-initiated social video views up for grabs before the opening kickoff and after the final whistle. Performance-savvy advertisers and their agency partners who have time-shifted the viewing behaviors of their target audiences around the Super Bowl in the past have developed comprehensive plans before game day. And they’ve reaped huge rewards.

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But it’s not too late for advertisers to extract incremental reach and frequency from their Super Bowl budgets through online exposure. By making minor creative adjustments, reallocating online media weight, and familiarizing themselves with relevant benchmarks, advertisers can be sure to maximize campaign visibility for the big game.

Here's a plan:

Leverage supplemental creative assets. The main creative for the Super Bowl campaigns almost always drives the majority of the views -- but by leveraging only one creative, advertisers leave millions of views on the table. Campaigns with multiple creative executions generally drive significant viewership from their secondary and tertiary assets. Even the cutting-room floor can be a gold mine for millions of views; creative agencies burn through many creative concepts and footage before finalizing the spot and getting approval from the advertiser. When audiences like an ad, they want more, and salvaging the remains from the cutout bin can be a good source of more content. A great example for the potential of creative scraps comes from the Visible Measures 2011 Super Bowl Report, which shows that Volkswagen was able to drive over 3 million views from supplement creative assets, including behind-the-scenes clips and bloopers.

Front-load paid social spend. You can greatly amplify the overall effect of your online and offline components by reallocating media spend on video distribution before and after the big game. Pre-game spend builds up critical mass and buzz, which creates anticipation for your 30 to 60 seconds in front of 100+ million people. Post-game spend extends engagement with your brand online and keeps the good times rolling. But be diligent when finding a distribution partner -- look for a strong serving infrastructure that can optimize media with real- time creative rotation based on performance data instead of a media broker who is making commissions off trading inventory.

Know your benchmarks. Just like the teams on the field, your team needs to work towards common objectives, aligning you and your agency partners around the best-practice benchmarks and key performance metrics for your industry. There's at least three years of social video Super Bowl data available, which helps to baseline social reach and engagement for past Super Bowl campaigns for your brand and even competitive campaigns in your vertical. This data will keep you from second-guessing your campaign performance.

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